Emma the robot masseuse gets to work in Singapore

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A robot masseuse named Emma performs a massage on a patient at the NovaHealth traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Singapore. (AFP)
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Physician Calista Lim Hui Min, right, takes the pulse reading of a patient before receiving a massage by robot masseuse Emma at the NovaHealth traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Singapore. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2017
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Emma the robot masseuse gets to work in Singapore

SINGAPORE: A robot masseuse named Emma is offering Singaporeans high-tech back rubs with a gigantic metal arm and warm silicone tips which its creators say perfectly mimic the human touch.
The robot, the brainchild of local startup AiTreat, began work at a clinic in the city-state this week and performs “tui na,” a type of massage practiced in traditional Chinese medicine.
Emma, which stands for Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, consists of a white metal arm with heated silicone tips that mimic the human palm and thumb, with customers massaged while lying on a bed.
For SG$68 (SR188.36), customers at the traditional Chinese medicine clinic get half an hour of robotic massage — on the back or other parts of the body that are aching — five minutes of massage by a human therapist and around 20 minutes of acupuncture.
Calista Lim, a Beijing-trained physician at the NovaHealth TCM clinic, said the robot eases her workload, allowing her to focus on seeing more patients.
“There are days that... humans feel a little tired or under the weather and they may be a little reluctant to do extra work,” she told AFP.

“But for Emma, once I say go, then she goes to work.”
She said the massage robot is also useful in plugging a labor shortage, as it can be difficult to find good therapists in Singapore.
“Tui na” involves applying pressure to certain points of the body. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe it can help relieve various ailments from headaches to depression.
Zhang Yizhong, chief executive of AiTreat, which was nurtured by the city-state’s Nanyang Technological University, said Emma uses sensors to detect stiffness in the human body and how well blood is flowing to more effectively massage patients.
Still, Lim conceded some patients were initially apprehensive about being massaged by a machine “because they watch a lot of horror movies.”
But most warmed to the idea after trying it out.
Elaine Low, 35, who suffers from back pain, said she enjoyed the experience.
“It feels very warm, very comfortable,” she said.
Traditional Chinese medicine, which uses herbal medicines and techniques such as acupuncture, is popular in Singapore where most of the population is ethnic Chinese.


WHO: Alcohol abuse kills 3 million a year, most of them men

The logo of the World Health Organization (WHO) is pictured on the facade of the WHO headquarters on October 24, 2017 in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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WHO: Alcohol abuse kills 3 million a year, most of them men

  • Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 percent were due to injuries, such as traffic accidents and interpersonal violence
  • An estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide drink alcohol, with average daily consumption of people at 33 grams of pure alcohol a day

GENEVA: More than 3 million people died in 2016 due to drinking too much alcohol, meaning one in 20 deaths worldwide was linked to harmful drinking, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
More than three quarters of these deaths were among men, the UN health agency said. Despite evidence of the health risks it carries, global consumption of alcohol is predicted to rise in the next 10 years.
“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.
In its “Global status report on alcohol and health 2018,” the WHO said that globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women are problem drinkers or alcohol abusers. The highest prevalence is in Europe and the Americas, and alcohol-use disorders are more common in wealthier countries.
Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 percent were due to injuries, such as traffic accidents and interpersonal violence. Another 21 percent were due to digestive disorders, and 19 percent due to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
An estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide drink alcohol, with average daily consumption of people at 33 grams of pure alcohol a day. This is roughly equivalent to two 150 ml glasses of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two 40 ml shots of spirits.
Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10 percent since 2010. Current trends point to a global rise in per capita consumption in the next 10 years, the report said, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas.
“All countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol,” said Vladimir Poznyak, of the WHO’s substance abuse unit. He said proven, cost-effective steps included raising alcohol taxes, restricting advertising and limiting easy access to alcohol.
Worldwide, 45 percent of total alcohol consumed is in the form of spirits. Beer is the second most popular, accounting for 34 percent of consumption, followed by wine at 12 percent.
The report found that almost all countries have alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other pricing strategies such as banning below-cost sales or bulk buy discounts.